Google Manual Penalties - I Recently Got 17 Manual Ones

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Hi

I thought I'd share a little. I recently got slapped with 17 manual penalties on moneysites (not all were earning)

I've got 13 removed so far. 4 to go.

Lots of lessons in this unfun experience. I'll update this thread with some findings. I've learnt a lot and have now started a regular link detox for my sites.

Notes:
1) I use a unique webmaster account for ALL, but I link my email to each as a user. (just like an agency would do)
2) some moneysites share an IP. Not all. Some are different servers, different NS, etc.

Finding So Far:
1) Just 1 link can cause a penalty. A homepage testimonial link from one of my moneysites to another moneysite caused a penalty. (The site in question only had some branded profile links, so it was easy to isolate it.)
2) Google is onto testimonial links. I had a few testimonial links from homepages to other sites.
I removed these on some sites and the penalty got lifted. I'm 99% certain these caused penalties on some sites.
3) I bought an existing domain from TB solutions. I restored some web archive content. Did NO linking out. Added to a webmaster and it immediately got a spam content penalty.
The site looked decent, which is weird.
- no spam in web archive.
- no spam in backlinks
My guess is that Google is tracking existing content in web archive and watching it carefully!
4) 8 Other sites had homepage links from some PBNS. I removed the links and the penalties got lifted. Again, these were testimonial style homepage links.
5) One site got a penalty from a 'testimonial' link on a powerful page with only 10 other links on it. (Yes, it was one of those great finds!) They specifically signalled it out as a bad link!

What Remains:
1) one site that gets people to add a link to an inner page in exchange for a listing. I need to disavow these and see if the penalty gets lifted. (Will remove disavow when they approve)
2) one decent earner that just won't get the penalty lifted. Will need a deep dig here to see what else can be disavowed.-
3) regular link detox. I'm amazed at how many scraping sites have added links to my sites that need disavowing!

Apologies for a short write-up. It's bee a bit busy to try do a full case study and not give away all my niches & links!

I'll try add some more info when I have time but thought this might get some good discussion started. Also - I'd like to start commenting on other threads in the forum and I have no likes :(
 

Calamari

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I have been hearing more chatter in general about manual penalties. Google did say that they are watching.

There's usually a common thread that lands you on their radar before they get deeper into your business.

Any idea what that was?

Usually it's using a pbn. Were the pbn links you had a completely private network or did you buy them? If you owned the pbn did you sell/give links to other seo's?
 
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1) It was my private network PBNS
2) I also used some bought ones.
It was my ones that were an issue (as they got de-indexed - roughly 55 of them)

Still trying to work out what caused what as there are actually a few different causes I think.
 

Calamari

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1) It was my private network PBNS
2) I also used some bought ones.
It was my ones that were an issue (as they got de-indexed - roughly 55 of them)

Still trying to work out what caused what as there are actually a few different causes I think.
You'll probably never know but you do make yourself and your agency site visible on high profile seo blogs that teach tactics Google frowns upon. Google reads those.
 

Ryuzaki

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I've had this happen too. Once you get popped for running a PBN, especially if you're a high profile SEO "character" in the industry, they'll crawl up your butt with a fine-tooth comb and wipe you out for anything they can (and we deserve it). It's all a part of the game.

I lost about 100 domains during that apocalypse. I didn't even try to bring most of them back. Years later I resurrected three of them and sold them for $30k. I probably should have saved a bunch like you did. I just let their domains expire and killed the hosting.

Now I'm reformed and white hat and sleep much better with far more stable earnings.

I recently got slapped with 17 manual penalties on moneysites
I tried to run 50 money sites at one point in my career. I built the most immaculate sites, then it came time for link building and I realized there was no way I could scale it. That's how I ended up getting into spam and PBNs. It didn't end well. Now I just focus on one main project. I could see branching out to two once I have my outsourcing and automation system in place.

Google is onto testimonial links.
I bet they're not onto it in terms of algorithmically searching it out. But when they put human eyeballs on your sites and realized they were all weaved together with each other and a PBN, it was easy to spot. And in your case it was definitely a link scheme. Most testimonial links on the web are above water, I'd guess.

There's a guy in my niche who's selling the worst do-follow homepage links out to other niches with exact match anchors, as well as having testimonial links going out. He's not been penalized for either yet, but I bet if someone ratted him out he'd get popped. A lot of times it's all about doing something so egregious that you get the human eyeball on you, then they find the rest.

Added to a webmaster and it immediately got a spam content penalty.
I've had this happen too. For me it wasn't that it immediately got a penalty. It's that they ran it back through the system and showed you the penalty that already existed. In my case, several times over, it was always that someone bought the domain for the type-in traffic and traffic through the backlinks and was redirecting them all to pharma sites. I notified Google that I was a new owner through a reconsideration request and they removed the penalty in 24-48 hours.

regular link detox. I'm amazed at how many scraping sites have added links to my sites that need disavowing!
Yeah, it's insane. I was doing monthly disavows and it's so bad now that I'm doing it twice a month now. Alexa scrapers, image scrapers, site rankers, site evaluators, keyword research sites... it goes on and on. I have seen sites get a penalty from this mess too. Most of these links end up going down on their own but if they don't and accumulate enough, you can get a penalty. The site I'm talking about got a penalty for too many of these links pointed to an image, not even a page!
 
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Do you guys really think those scraper sites need disavowing? I think Google would be pretty darn good at identifying them as such
 
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@Ryuzaki - thanks for the awesome write up!

1) Not all sites are dark side.
2) They're not all major moneysites. Some are parked and waiting for the next set of link building (e.g. citations, etc). Doing rank & rent on them.
3) I'm focussing on 2 sites for now. You can't run 20 easily! I do also have systems.
4) Testimonial links - the one that they flagged (specifically mentioned) - was on a super safe, legit site. If I showed you, even on manual review you wouldn't know. So there is some algo check here. I can give more details in a PM. (I'm also still condensing the info they provided)
notified Google that I was a new owner through a reconsideration request and they removed the penalty in 24-48 hours.
1) I did this.
2) I checked web archive and there were no links out or dodgy stuff.
3) It's been rejected 3x now. It has NO outbound links at all or never had from me.

Now I'm reformed and white hat and sleep much better with far more stable earnings.
Agreed! These are some affiliate sites I wanted to use some PBNS to give a boost and then migrate. I've got a guest post system that's pretty nifty but wanted to give them an initial boost.
The upside of all of this is that I've got some pretty strict guest post guidelines now. I.e. previously I was happy with links that had Ahrefs traffic of 500+, but now after all this detox I've added some extra checks. Should save a fortune on bad guest post links.

Link Detox
Chatted with some solid SEO's and many do it. I never thought it was necessary but when you start doing it, you realise the amount of scraping. Total eye opener!

I've used this downtime to
1) tweak layouts to boost CRO.
2) fix all internal links
3) reduce word count so it matches the top ranking stuff
50 moneysites
I have groups of similar sites and I just get a VA to do the tasks to the relevant sites. E.g. Affiliate Tables, all get the same CRO tweaks, etc. They can marinate for a bit when they're ready and will then do guest posting. Will only focus on 3 sites at a time.
 
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Disavowing link= admitting guilt that you played dirty in the eyes of gooogle, removing the "bad" links in combination with the disavow file is simply laying down in front of google saying "Yes sir, I did it, I was naughty seo now spank me!"

And while they may have lifted the penalty you can be sure that you are still on their radar and they will be watching you and all your ip's and webmaster accounts like a hawk.

So unless you plan on the future being completely straight with google, and not do any and I mean ANY link building even "white hat", then your best option is to change ip's and webmaster accounts.

The reason I put white hat in "" is because there is a difference in what the industry views as white hat and what google views as white hat and black hat, google views anybody who tries to manipulate the algo as black hat, so for an seo to be actual white hat means only orking on onpage and technical, which if done right and with awesome(well optimized) content can often land you a spot on page one of google, depending ofcourse also on how competitative the search term is.
 
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Disavowing link= admitting guilt that you played dirty in the eyes of gooogle, removing the "bad" links in combination with the disavow file is simply laying down in front of google saying "Yes sir, I did it, I was naughty seo now spank me!"
- what about all those scraper links?
- what about negative SEO links?

your best option is to change ip's and webmaster accounts.
- you mean host ip or my office ip?
- totally new webmaster account? Like site was sold kinda stuff?
 
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- what about all those scraper links?
- what about negative SEO links?
-If you have your canonical set up right, scraper links shouldn't be able to hurt you, scraper links shouldnt be able to hurt you eother if your site has some authority, so basicaly scraper links are most of the time hurtfull only to new sites.
-Negative seo links doesn't work and has not worked for at least a few years, when the seem to apear you can bet that it is something else going on that is masked by the links, because everybody thinks neg. seo means links/spam links and when they see them they stop their search to try to find out what is going on, they just asume they've found the problem.

- you mean host ip or my office ip?
- totally new webmaster account? Like site was sold kinda stuff?
-Yes your office ip, and in the future I would suggest using a good vpn or proxies when ever possible.
Probably the best thing would be if you are able to set up your own proxy server/servers, cause you can bet your a** google already knows just about all available proxies, even the "private" proxies, since 99.9% of the times private means "we only rent those proxies out to 45 people/companies"

-yes totally new webmaster accounts, like if the site was sold, and remember that if one site in a webmaster account gets hit, the rest are either soon to follow or being scrutinized like shit for any commonaleties with the penalized site, same thing goes if the different webmaster accounts has the same user/users.
 

andreint

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Negative seo links doesn't work
Oh, you're completely wrong here.

Just 2 days ago I recovered my $10k/mo site from a manual penalty I received 2 months ago (sitewide, 95% traffic drop) due to neg SEO. That wasn't some Fiverr-ish shit. It took 5 reconsideration requests and G's spam team didn't tell me anything till I disavowed 99% of my backlinks (thousands).

That's just one example. I can list dozens of projects in dozens of different niches where my clients got into 'trouble' because of neg SEO.

Now I do a weekly link detox & monthly disavow file update across my entire portfolio.
 

Sutra

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@andreint I've heard that when you get a manual penalty you'll get a message about it in Webmaster Tools. But is that true...when you get a manual penalty do you always get a message in Webmaster Tools (or some sort of message from Google) about it?
 

andreint

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@andreint I've heard that when you get a manual penalty you'll get a message about it in Webmaster Tools. But is that true...when you get a manual penalty do you always get a message in Webmaster Tools (or some sort of message from Google) about it?
Yeah, you'll always get the notification. Sometimes it's not instant, but you should see it in your SC within a day or two.
 

Steve Brownlie

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Oh, you're completely wrong here.

Just 2 days ago I recovered my $10k/mo site from a manual penalty I received 2 months ago (sitewide, 95% traffic drop) due to neg SEO. That wasn't some Fiverr-ish shit. It took 5 reconsideration requests and G's spam team didn't tell me anything till I disavowed 99% of my backlinks (thousands).

That's just one example. I can list dozens of projects in dozens of different niches where my clients got into 'trouble' because of neg SEO.

Now I do a weekly link detox & monthly disavow file update across my entire portfolio.
Yep this is correct. Can confirm that every single day since 5-6 years ago the in-house SEO team at a billion dollar site I knew the head of SEO at disavow crap to avoid a penalty. It's a sad waste of time but... if you're on someone's radar it's the price of doing business. Sure 'most of the time' you won't have the 95% smackdown and have to go through hell but when you've got a lot of money on the line you just can't take the risk.
 
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Are you guys disavowing obvious scrapers or do you go further? Half the time I try to visit the site of a new link and it doesn't resolve
 
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Are you guys disavowing obvious scrapers or do you go further?
Anything that's low value. Even if it's not resolving as it may get fixed and I'd rather just not worry about it.
 
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So "download latest links" from search console, and go off of that? If so I have around 10K rows to look at for the last few months. Man what a mission. This is like a full-time job.
 
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Man what a mission.
Agreed. Once you've done it once it's easy.
2) If you disavow domains many links disappear. 10k might just be around 1k in the end anyway.
 
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All done, around 800 domains in the end...

Found lots of obvious blog comment spam (maybe a neg SEO campaign?), but more weird were lots of supposed links to my site from about a dozen different firearms/gun owners forums... And I'd go and try to find the actual link to my site on these pages, but I could never find it, but Google was telling me there was hundreds of them! Anyway domain disavowed them all of course. Strange.
 
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All done, around 800 domains in the end...
- not so bad!
- now to disavow any guest posts that have obviously paid signals. :-) I feel G is targetting these at the moment as well. (Things with guest post, advertise in the menu type sites)
 
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Quick Poll For Smart Good SEO's:
Check this site for a link opp and comment if you would disavow it or not, and if not, what's your reason.
http://jadeemily.com.au/

Would be interesting to see what people say...
 

Calamari

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If it was an organic link I'd leave it. The only thing that turns me off about the site is that they actively seek out guest posters. I don't really want to be associated with sites that rely heavily on guest post content.
 

becool

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I'm always a little skittish when it comes to general/everything blogs that address every topic under the sun. That's the very nature of a general blog, admittedly, but long term, what if they start linking out to adult or gambling niches or otherwise become too spammy? I don't actively disavow based on that alone, but it's always something that's lingering in the back of my mind.

I also don't like anything "sex" related.